ABA Routing Number Explained

ABA Routing Number Explained

The ABA Routing Number is a crucial financial tool that allows customers to make electronic payments and transfers. Yet, despite its importance, many people are unaware of what an ABA Routing Number is, what it’s used for, and how to find and protect it. 

This article will take a closer look at the ABA Routing Number and uncover its mysteries.

What Is an ABA Routing Number?

The ABA Routing Number, also known as the American Bankers Association routing number, is a unique nine-digit code assigned to financial institutions in the United States. 

Payment processing companies use this code to identify financial institutions when processing payments such as direct deposits and wire transfers. In fact, the ABA Routing Number is primarily used for automated payments and transfers between two financial institutions.

The ABA Routing Number was created in 1910 by the American Bankers Association to facilitate processing payments between banks and other financial institutions. They designed the ABA Routing Number system to reduce the chances of errors in processing payments and to simplify the process.

The ABA Routing Number is a vital part of the banking system. Without it, it would be difficult to process payments electronically. As such, it is crucial to understand how the ABA Routing Number works and to take steps to protect it.

For What Is the ABA Routing Number Used?

The ABA Routing Number is primarily used to make payments and transfers between financial institutions. Financial institutions use it to identify the bank or credit union processing the payment or transfer. These transactions can include direct deposits, wire transfers, automatic payments, and more.

Financial institutions also use the ABA Routing Number To verify the customer’s identity when making online payments and transfers. With this, they can ensure that payments and transfers reach the right person and that the customer’s identity is protected.

In addition, banks use the ABA Routing Number to verify customer bank accounts when setting up automatic payments or transfers. The ABA Routing Number ensures that the customer’s bank accounts are linked to the correct financial institution.

The Importance of Routing Numbers

A routing number is used to direct the funds to the right place. When you make a payment, it’s initially sent to the routing number. From there, the payment is sent to the account of the designated financial institution. 

This process is the main purpose of routing numbers, making them essential for any financial transaction. And while they can be used by anyone who wants to make payments, banks can’t operate without routing numbers. As a result, they’re also crucial to the operations of any business or individual that uses banking services.

Regarding types of payments, checks use routing numbers, but they are also important in ACH debits. Unlike a check, a debit does not include the amount being transferred. Instead, it’s simply an instruction that the financial institution can use to make a transfer. 

Therefore, routing numbers are not crucial for ACH debits. However, they’re still an essential part of how the system works. 

With routing numbers, banks can direct the payment and return the funds.

How to Find Your ABA Routing Number?

If you’re looking for your ABA Routing Number, there are several methods you can use to find it. The best and most reliable way to find your ABA Routing Number is to contact your bank or credit union. They can provide you with the information you need.

However, if you cannot contact your bank or credit union, you can also find your ABA Routing Number on your chequebook or your bank’s website. Most banks and credit unions display their ABA Routing Numbers on their website.

In addition, you can find your ABA Routing Number just by searching online. Numerous websites provide this information for the most prominent and well-known financial institutions. 

Different ABA Routing Number Formats

The ABA Routing Number is a nine-digit code consisting of two parts: digits 1 through 4 indicate the banks’ location, and the last five identify the specific bank or credit union.

The ABA Routing Number can be displayed in different formats. For example, it can be shown as a nine-digit code, a nine-digit hyphenated code, or a nine-digit hyphenated code with extra digits.

The most common format is the nine-digit hyphenated code. Financial institutions use this format on checks, other documents, and automated payment systems.

It’s important to note that the ABA Routing Number can vary from one bank or credit union to another, so it’s essential to make sure you’re using the correct ABA Routing Number for the bank or credit union with whom you’re working.

Security Measures for Protecting Your ABA Routing Number

It is essential to protect your ABA Routing Number. As we’ve seen, this number is a sensitive piece of information that anyone can use to access your bank account and make payments or transfers without your knowledge.

To protect your ABA Routing Number, you need to keep it private. Do not share your ABA Routing Number with anyone, even if they claim to be from your bank or credit union. 

Also, check the security measures of any website you use to make payments or transfers. For example, ensure the website is secure and uses encryption to protect your personal information.

It’s also important to be aware of potential scams. For example, if someone asks you for your ABA Routing Number, verify their identity before sharing it. 

Never give out your ABA Routing Number unless you are absolutely sure of the person’s identity and the purpose of the payment or transfer.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Using Your ABA Routing Number

When using your ABA Routing Number, it is vital to make sure you enter it correctly. The most common mistake is entering the wrong ABA Routing Number. This mistake can cause the payment or transfer to be sent to the wrong financial institution, resulting in delays and potential fees.

It is also important to double-check the payment or transfer before you submit it. With this step, you’ll be confident the payment or transfer is going to the right person or financial institution. 

Additionally, keep a record of all payments and transfers. It’s also a good idea to make it a habit to check your bank account regularly to ensure that all payments and transfers have passed through successfully.

Finally, use a secure website when making payments or transfers. 

What to Do if You Lose Your ABA Routing Number?

If you lose your ABA Routing Number, you must immediately contact your bank or credit union. They will be able to provide you with the information you need to get your ABA Routing Number back.

To prevent losing your ABA routing numbers, remember the common mistakes people make and the tips we’ve shared on how to avoid those mistakes. 

Is ABA Routing Number the Same as a US Routing Number?

No, they are not the same. An ABA routing number is a nine-digit code, while the US routing number is an eight-digit code. Both identify banks and financial institutions in the United States. 

The main difference between the ABA and US routing numbers is that the ABA routing number is used for both electronic and paper transactions. On the other hand, the US routing number is only used for electronic transactions.

Is the ABA Routing Number Needed for an International Wire Transfer?

While you don’t generally need the ABA routing number for an international wire transfer, there are a few exceptions. If you send a wire transfer to a country part of the SWIFT network, you will need to provide a SWIFT code in addition to the ABA routing number. 

Some banks may also require an IBAN (International Bank Account Number) or BIC (Bank Identifier Code) when sending an international wire transfer.

If you are unsure whether or not your recipient’s bank requires an ABA routing number for an international wire transfer, you can check with your bank or the recipient’s bank to be sure.

How Can It Help You in the UK?

The term “routing number” isn’t commonly used in the UK. Instead, banks use sort codes to identify themselves. However, some US-based banks may have operations in the UK and use ABA routing numbers for their UK customers. 

If you have a US bank account and are looking to transfer money to a UK bank account, you will also need to use the ABA routing number for your bank’s UK operations.

What Makes an ABA Routing Number Different in the UK?

You should know the key differences between ABA routing numbers and sort codes if you’re transferring money between US and UK accounts.

First, while both are nine digits long, sort codes are arranged in six-digit pairs, which makes them easy to read, whereas ABA routing numbers follow a more complex pattern. 

Second, sort codes are only used by banks in the UK, whereas ABA routing numbers can be used by financial institutions worldwide. 

Finally, each bank has only one sort code, whereas a single bank may have multiple ABA routing numbers depending on their services and location.

Benefits of ABA Routing Numbers in the UK

Easier Payment Processing

One of the main benefits of having an ABA routing number in the UK is that it makes payment processing more straightforward. With an ABA routing number, businesses can streamline their payments and make them more efficient. Consequently, the ABA routing number provides a consistent way for companies to identify themselves when making payments.

Improved Security

Another benefit of having an ABA routing number in the UK is that it can improve security. Financial institutions can use the ABA routing number to verify a business’s identity when making a payment. By using an ABA routing number, companies can ensure that they only deal with legitimate businesses when making payments. As a result, you can prevent fraud and improve security overall.


The ABA Routing Number is a vital part of the banking system, and it is crucial to understand how it works and to take steps to protect it.

The ABA Routing Number is a powerful tool that can help you to make payments and transfers safely and securely. By taking the time to understand how it works and to take steps to protect it, you can ensure your payments and transfers are secure and that your personal information is protected.

by Matt Woodley
Matt Woodley is the Founder of Money Transfer Expert and is a recognised expert on international money transfers. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History from the University of Auckland.